On-the-whistle report: Viktor Johansson injury worry ... Rotherham United 0 Middlesbrough 1

On-the-whistle report: Viktor Johansson injury worry ... Rotherham United 0 Middlesbrough 1

By Paul Davis | 30/07/2021

On-the-whistle report: Viktor Johansson injury worry ... Rotherham United 0 Middlesbrough 1
Josh Kayode in action against Middlesbrough. Picture by Kerrie Beddows

ROTHERHAM United lost goalkeeper Viktor Johansson to injury as they signed off their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 home defeat against Middlesbrough tonight.

The shot-shopper limped out of proceedings early on and it was a worrying sight with the League One season only eight days away.

It was a first loss of the summer for the Millers who had gone unbeaten in their previous six friendlies.

Championship Boro, with Rotherham old boy Matt Crooks in their ranks after his move last week, settled the contest with a 14th-minute free-kick from Paddy McNair.

Only a minute had been played when Kieran Sadlier worked himself an opportunity as he cut in from the right but couldn't get the power he needed in his low, left-footed shot.

It seems strange to see Crooks in a green away kit and the midfielder's first contribution was a fifth-minute effort inside the area that was blocked.

Johansson lasted only ten minutes and his replacement, Josh Chapman, was picking the ball out of the net four minutes later when Paddy McNair's pinpoint free-kick over the wall found the corner of the net via the post.

Rotherham, for whom centre-half Michael Ihiekwe was an absentee, were coming under pressure and Chapman had to scramble to keep out Sam Morsy's 20th minute shot from just outside the box.

The Millers were relieved to see Jamie Lindsay pick himself up and be able to continue around the half-hour mark after being caught late by Johnny Howson.

Around 1,200 Boro fans had made the trip to New York and were in louder voice than the Rotherham contingent who'd had little to cheer.

The home side came more in the contest as half-time approached but it was still the visitors who were looking most likely to score.

Quick-thinking Sadlier spotted keeper Joe Lumley off guard in the 43rd minute and went for goal with a long-range free-kick from out wide that landed on the roof of the net.

That was the closest Rotherham, who hadn't started with their strongest side, came to a breakthrough in a first half controlled by the away team.

Trialist Marlon Fossey, from Fulham, was playing at right-back for the Millers but struggling to make much of an impression.

Another trialist, midfielder Matt Daly, came on for the second half and showed deft-footed signs of promise.

Rotherham were much better after the break and Dan Barlaser almost produced a carbon copy of Boro's free-kick opener as he bent his attempt over the wall only to see Lumley make a flying 55th-minute save.

Boro came back with a shot from close in from Chuba Akpom that flashed just wide.

Crooks departed in the 75th minute to generous applause from the Millers faithful.

Rotherham can take encouragement from their second-half display but Johansson's departure put a real cloud over their evening.

Rotherham (3-5-2): Viktor Johansson (Josh Chapman 10); Jake Hull, Richard Wood (Chiedozie Ogbene 64), Wes Harding (Jake Cooper 83); Marlon Fossey, Kieran Sadlier (Jacob Gratton 76), Jamie  Lindsay (Ben Wiles H-T), Dan Barlaser (Mickel Miller 64), Shane Ferguson (Matt Daly H-T); Michael Smith (Freddie Ladapo H-T), Josh Kayode (Jerome Greaves 76). Subs not used: Jake Cooper, Curtis Durose, Sam Greenhouse.

Middlesbrough (3-5-2): Joe Lumley; Paddy McNair, Grant Hall (Sol Bamba H-T), Dael Fry (Nathan Wood 69); Anfernee Dijksteel (Djed Spence 75), Sam Morsy (Hayden Hackney 82), Johnny Howson (Connor Malley 75), Matt Crooks (Jamie Patterson 75), Isaiah Jones (Jack Robinson 27); Duncan Watmore (Chuba Akpom H-T), Josh Coburn (Uche Ikpeazu H-T). Subs not used: Dejan Stojanovic.

Goals: McNair 14 (Middlesbrough).

Referee: James Bell (Sheffield).

Attendance: 3,567 (1,180).

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